Features

Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Hands On – Better than eyes can see

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Two months of collective restraint from the world’s most powerful smartphone companies have led up to this day in Barcelona. If this were Hollywood, today would be the Oscars, maybe even more exciting. Today, tightly guarded secrets finally see the light of day, leaks that couldn’t wait to be revealed are confirmed, and expectations that have kept the tech industry at a standstill are either quenched or met with utter disappointment.

In a span of just two years, Korean smartphone giant Samsung has been on the receiving end of both criticism and praise. Its 2014 smartphone the Galaxy S5, with its plasticky build and faux leather stylings was a big miss while its 2015 attempt the glass and metal Galaxy S6 was for the most part, everything its demanding user base clamoured for.

Today as they unveil their latest Pièce De Résistance or as the Spanish say the Plato Fuerte, Samsung hopes for a repeat of last year’s performance. 

I’ve seen and held the new Galaxy S7 and its curvier big brother the Galaxy S7 Edge – both are great phones, not blow your mind phones, but phones that deliver a certain level of contentment and satisfaction.

Call it managing expectations. For sure, a smartphone on the bleeding edge is what we tech journalists seek out. But at its core, if you strip away the pomp and hyperbole of a smartphone launch, see beyond the marketing speak, and allow enough time for the hype to die down, you’ll find that what everybody really wants is a smartphone they can be content with.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of those phones.

COMEBACK

Two key themes mark the design of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge (from hereon out collectively referred to as the S7 unless otherwise stated) – giving back what was surreptitiously taken away, and improving on what has already been done right.

Like the S5 of two years past, the S7 has an IP68 rating that guarantees survival under fresh or pool water up to depths of 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. The only orifices on the phone are a micro USB charging port and headphone jack, both remain exposed but protected thanks to a new cap-less design.

The hybrid SIM tray on the S7 and S7 Edge takes two nano SIM cards or one SIM and on microSD card.

The hybrid SIM tray on the S7 and S7 Edge takes two nano SIM cards or one SIM and on microSD card.

The only removable part is its SIM card tray, lined with rubber stoppers to keep water out. The hybrid tray has two slots, one for a nano SIM, and the other for a micro SD (or a second nano SIM) card of up to 200GB in case the phone’s internal storage is not enough (32GB or 64GB depending on your region). The latter should appease critics who decried the absence of the expandable memory on the S6, and gives Samsung a leg up on Apple whose never made external cards an option on the iPhone. 

One feature not making a comeback is user replaceable batteries. Instead Samsung is giving the S7 and S7 Edge batteries with larger capacities. Up to 3000 mAh on the S7 and 3600 mAh on the S7 Edge. Both phones also support fast wired and wireless charging and take 95 minutes and 115 minutes (wired) and 130 and 150 minutes (wireless) respectively to charge from 0 to 100%.

DESIGN

If you’ve seen the S6 then the S7 won’t look dramatically different. The S7 is still mostly made up of glass and metal but now has slightly more rounded corners, a slightly more squarish home button, and a display that’s even more flushed against its sides.

samsung-galaxy-s7-curves

Both the S7 and S7 Edge are curvier than last years models thanks to new 3D glass.

The biggest design change can be seen and felt once you turn the phone around. The back of the of S7 now curves outward on both ends made from what Samsung calls 3D glass. It’s a simple but practical design change that’s made the phone less boxy, more ergonomic, and one that feels thinner than it actually is.

CAMERA

Samsung also improved the highly regarded camera of the S6.

While its shaved down the unsightly camera bump, everything else is bigger and better, including a faster f/1.7 lens and larger 1.4um pixel size.

samsung-galaxy-s7-camera

On paper the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have one of the best cameras seen on a smartphone ever.

The company is touting a new feature called dual pixel technology, something seen on high end professional cameras from Canon but never on a smartphone. The promise is even better low light performance and even faster focus speeds, up to 4x faster than its predecessor in low light.

Samsung is also making a bold move this year, cutting down on megapixels from 16 on the S6 to only 12 on the S7. In lieu of more megapixels you get larger pixels, a tradeoff that theoretically should deliver better looking photos across lighting conditions.

Double pressing on the home button still launches the camera app, and launch time is as fast as ever. From within the camera app Samsung has added a new Motion Panorama mode and made improvements to its Hyperlapse feature bringing down file sizes significantly so that it can be shared easily on the web.

Similar to what Apple did with the iPhone 6S, the S7’s selfie camera gets fill flash, not an actual front facing flash, but a sudden burst of light from your smartphone display.

POWER

Depending on where you are in the world the S7 will be powered by different processors, either an octa-core processor from Samsung (Exynos 8890) or a quad-core processor from Snapdragon (Snapdragon 820), both are promised to be up to 58% faster than last year’s models.

Memory-wise, 4GB of RAM is standard across the board.

Gamers will enjoy a new feature called Game Tools that allow you to take screenshots, record game play, turn off notifications while in game, and the ability switch to a power saving mode that reduces performance but saves on battery life. The phone also supports Vulcan API so game developers can tap into even more power saving and performance driving features in tandem with the phone.

S7 EDGE

Last year Samsung introduced two innovative new smartphones with curved screens, the 5.1-inch S6 Edge and 5.7 inch S7 Edge Plus. Both models have been consolidated into one product this year the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 Edge. The change might sound confusing at first but it is a smart move that clearly defines Samsung’s top-of-the-line smartphone offerings which in 2016 are the Galaxy S7 (5.1 inches) Galaxy S7 Edge (5.5 inches) and Galaxy Note 5 (5.7 inches with a bundled stylus), none of which compete with each other in both feature set and screen size. 

Tasks Edge on the Galaxy S7 Edge allows users to set shortcuts to tasks within certain asks, soon even 3rd party ones

Tasks Edge on the Galaxy S7 Edge allows users to set shortcuts to tasks within certain asks, soon even 3rd party ones

Edge functionality on the S7 Edge has been expanded – the edge display is now two columns wide. The extra screen real estate means more space for 3rd party widgets. On top of “People Edge” (contact shortcuts) and “Apps Edge” (app shortcuts) Samsung is adding a third edge screen called “Task Edge” which allows you to create shortcuts to specific tasks within apps. For example you create a shortcut to launch the selfie camera, or compose a new SMS message. For now its Samsung apps only but the company is opening up Task Edge to third party developers so soon you should also be able to also create shortcuts for posting photos to Instagram and composing Tweets.

AVAILABILITY

It’s only been a few hours since the launch of the S7, not enough time to crown it the next best thing. In a week or so after this hype has died down, I should be able to assess how I truly feel about the device and determine whether or not it is a phone that delivers contentment. But by then the phone could already be in your hands.

In an effort to be the first flagship smartphone in stores this 2016, Samsung is pushing for an aggressive worldwide release. Both phones will be available in the United States on March 11th. The Philippine release is scheduled for March 19th, with gold and black 32GB variants of the S7 and S7 Edge retailing for Php 34990 and Php 39990 respectively.

[irp posts=”2481″ name=”Singapore is getting a taste of Samsung’s pink-gold Galaxy S7 phones”]

Features

ASUS ZenBook 13: A portable all-arounder

Light, versatile, and long-lasting

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The problem with ultra slim laptops has always been their lack of ports and generally shaky battery life. Such a problem does not exist with the ASUS ZenBook 13. 

It’s the latest on ASUS’ ZenBook line and it combines the portability of ultra slim notebooks with the port versatility and long-lasting battery life of typically larger laptops.

What’s in the box? 

Immediately after taking things out of the box, you’ll see how the ZenBook 13 is a complete package. It comes with two cables to compensate for the ones that you don’t find built in on the laptop.

There’s a USB to Ethernet port connector, and a USB-C to 3.5mm jack for your audio needs. Rounding up the packaging are the ZenBook 13 itself, your power brick, and a nice and sleek laptop sleeve.

So about those ports

Measuring at just 13.9mm and 1.07kg — this notebook is REALLY thin and light. Normally, laptops like these have one or two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports. Well, this one, certainly has more.

On the right hand side is the USB port and microSD card slot

Over to the left you have TWO USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports AND an HDMI port 

The ZenBook 13 can draw power from either USB-C/Thunderbolt port and you can easily connect it to an external monitor through the HDMI port should you need to.

The microSD card slot and USB ports means you can easily transfer files from external sources.

Elsewhere on the laptop is the webcam — a must now that we have to attend virtual meetings.

Oh and it also has ASUS’ signature Ergo-lift hinge that remains satisfying to both look at and feel as you lift the laptop lead. A really nice touch and adds to that overall Zen feeling.

A workhorse of a notebook

Don’t let its slight build fool you. This notebook is tough and packs some serious punch to power you for work.

Inside is a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor with an 8GB LPDDR4x RAM and 512GB of  SSD storage. That’s the perfect combination for a laptop that can stay with you shuffle through Word documents, Excel sheets, Powerpoint presentations, and even Photoshop.

The keyboard is edge-to-edge giving you that full-size experience. It’s also clickety, giving a satisfying travel experience — crucial if you have to type on it for hours.

Speaking of full-keyboard, the trackpad transforms into a digital numpad at the click of a button. It’s a signature ASUS feature and if you’re the type who has to fill in numbers a lot, this should prove to be hugely beneficial.

Display for immersive viewing

What do people say again about all work and no play? It makes you dull. That’s why after work, the ZenBook 13, which promises up to 22 freaking hours of battery life, can also be your entertainment companion as you wind down.

It has a frameless four-sided NanoEdge display. This means no pesky bezels to get in the way of your binge-watching.

Whether that’s watching Karasuno win a match or catching up with Midoriya and Bakugo’s hero-in-the-making adventures.

A portable all-arounder 

Slim and light, versatile, long-lasting, and performs just as good as other larger laptops. All these make the ASUS ZenBook 13 an all-arounder that will meet all your work and winding down needs.

As we continue to deal with the stresses of the new normal, the ZenBook 13 is a handy companion that you can bring with you, wherever you are around the house.

As we hope for things to open up soon, this notebook is also ready to go out with you to give you all the productivity and play support you can ever ask for.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and ASUS Philippines.

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Reviews

Google Pixel 4a Unboxing & Review: Unbelievably Good?

A direct contender of the iPhone SE and OnePlus Nord

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Google’s ‘a'(ffordable) line-up may be long overdue because of the pandemic — but after several months of waiting, we finally have one on our hands.

Cheaper than last year’s US$ 399 Pixel 3a, the US$ 349 Pixel 4a might just be the most affordable flagship killer contender you can get over the 2020 iPhone SE and the OnePlus Nord.

But can the mid-tier specifications and less-fancy phone features justify its affordable price tag? Head over to our in-depth Pixel 4a review here.

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Best Smartphones

Best Budget Smartphones below $200

August 2020 Edition

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below US$ 200! Each month, we update our selection with the budget-friendly phones we believe are most deserving of your hard-earned savings.

Even though the spotlight has been on high-end smartphones this entire year, there have been a few surprisingly good entry-level handsets coming out lately, as well. So good, in fact, that we had to reassess our entire list.

Here they are in no particular order

Redmi 9 (PhP 6,990 / US$ 141)

Quality build with baseline specs that can handle, well, the basics. This is what the Redmi line has been offering and that remains true with the Redmi 9. You’ll have to be bit creative with some of the apps you install (always go for the Lite versions), but the pre-installed Google apps run smoothly and should be more than enough to power you through.

Hands-On: Redmi 9

Redmi Note 9 (US$ 200)

This is a routine appearance for the Redmi Note line. Xiaomi continues to lord over the budget segment by offering fairly capable smartphones at such an affordable price.

Review: Redmi Note 9

Realme 6i (US$ 196)

Realme finally releases a budget phone with a USB-C port! That aside, everything here is standard Realme — which is great. Its cameras leave much to be desired but what this is a budget phone after all. It does pretty well everywhere else — can game, handle your usual daily things, and has an impressive battery life.

READ: Realme6i 

OPPO A5s (US$ 117)

The OPPO A5s perhaps is best looked at as a transition device more than anything else. It does what you expect out of budget smartphones. It’s good to have “for now” but you might look elsewhere for a more reliable daily driver.

REVIEW: OPPO A5s

Samsung Galaxy A20 (US$ 190)

Samsung’s revived Galaxy A-series proves that the company cares about every price segment. The Galaxy A20, in particular, is the most well-rounded below US$ 200 thanks to its ultra-wide camera, AMOLED display, and hefty battery.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A20

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